The Softer Side of the Monster Or Why a Horror Writer Turns to Gay Romance

Unzipped magazine once proclaimed that I was the Stephen King of gay horror. I get letters from readers telling me how I maderick, photo 2 them stay up all night and how they were afraid to turn off the lights. Many of my books deal with lovely specters like serial killers, vampires, ghosts, werewolves…all roiling in a potent brew of blood and guts.

Yeah, I can be a gruesome guy.

But lately, my mind has turned to a kinder, gentler genre: gay romance.

And I wonder why. Am I going soft as I grow older? Losing my edge? What compels me to write love stories like VGL Male Seeks Same, which rick 6 Superstarjust became a finalist in the EPIC E-Book competition (formerly known as the Eppies) in contemporary romance? What makes me want to write stories like NEG UB2, Pottery Peter, Through The Closet Door, and others with love as their central theme?

These are the kind of things that keep me awake at night.

Even my horror titles, books like Orientation (reincarnation tale) and Bashed (ghost story) have lately been imbued with romance at their core.

And you know what? I thought writing this blog would deliver a revelation to me, an epiphany from on high. I would at last understand what made me want to write about those central human connections: love and desire. But I’m not sure that’s gonna happen.

I can speculate. For one, I have just entered my fifth decade. I have been married to a woman once (for seven years with a handsome and talented son as a result). I have been in serious, live-in relationships with four different men (just call me Zsa Zsa), the last of which I believe is the keeper. I have had flings, encounters, zipless fucks and more with countless others. So maybe I want to get out a little bit about how I feel about love, that hard-to-pin-down emotion that affects all of us with about the same regularity as, oh, well, hunger maybe. So maybe I am just looking into the triumphs and losses of my own personal life and bringing them to the fore through exploring how two human beings are drawn to one another.

Maybe.rick 3 VGLMale

Or maybe I was stunned when I wrote that little online romance story, VGL Male Seeks Same, and it was an instant hit, becoming a bestselling title for my publisher and garnering some rave reviews. Maybe I said to myself, “Hey people like this stuff. Maybe you, sir, should just give people what they want.” But, even though it was a revelation to me first that I could write a love story and second that people would actually read a love story from me, catering to the marketplace has never been my thing. I’m a selfish bastard. I write what I want. I write what makes me laugh, cringe, or cry. I write what my characters bug me about and force me to get down on paper.

So as much as I would like to say, “I write romance for you, dear reader,” I can’t, because it isn’t quite the truth.

No, I think my first thoughts are closer to the truth of why a horror writer finds himself  increasingly exploring the battlefield known as love. As a member in good standing (and sometimes not-so-good…but that’s my business) of the human race, I wanna know what love is (to quote a song). And I think that, deep down, I know that’s what compels me to write about love. To try and Orientationunderstand it, to grasp its ineffable magic and to connect with my fellow human beings with a story that, while it may have many variables, has a universal truth: love.

I probably write about horrific things for many of the same reasons, but you just need to substitute fear for love.

And, often I have found that fear and love go hand in hand, just like lovers. Which is why I think you’re going to see from me, more and more, a very special mix of the frightening and the romantic.

Author

I live in Canada and I love big dogs, music, movies, reading and sports – especially baseball

Angelia Sparrow

I love horror. I love romance.
I even like erotic horror.

And I love an author who can give me a good story, with good horror and/or good romance. Because love is as scary as anything that goes chomp in the night. And people are even more vulnerable to it. We know to avoid the fangs and claws and ectoplasm, but we go looking for love.

rickrreed

I love Poppy Z. Brite, too. I think she really writes well about horror AND m/m relationships.

And thanks to everyone for all the comments so far; they’re very validating!

thelastaerie
you just need to substitute fear for love. what a great way to put it. I am interested in any element that makes human reacts strongly or, erm, irrationally – thus, stories to tell… and I can’t think of two more stronger elements than fear and love. So often, we are controlled by them. I read a lot of Poppy Z Brite’s horror books, but I don’t think if they are pure horror, there’s always other elements in it, love, betrayal… like your “Bashed” – a good story is a good story, I don’t care how it’s pigeonholed.
Lily

I love horror (I’m a huge Stephen King fan) and I love romance so getting both in your books is a big plus. Horror, romance or a combination of the two, as long as you’re writing it your fans, myself included, will be more than happy to read your books. 🙂

Treva Harte

Love is sometimes more difficult than horror. After all, with horror usually the reaction is to get the heck out. Why would you want to be in something bad? (Of course how you get out is a different story.) With love you have to choose to put yourself in, so to speak. You have to be willing to risk your self to stay. That’s a big choice to make.

Chris

Heh, I just mentioned in my blog post today how versatile I thought you were as a writer. I appreciate that! (And I’m glad you have non-horror titles, because I’m a ‘fraidy cat and tend to avoid books that are psychologically terrifying.)

KathyK

And sometimes, love can be one of the scariest things out there… you’re not necessarily going from horror to romance, just changing the focus a bit.

At least that’s my semi-wisdom today.

Personally, write what you want ’cause either way I’ll read ’em… it’s the story & the storyteller that counts more than the ‘genre’… mostly.

Bryl R. Tyne
Rick, I think you’re a romanticist at heart anyway, as are many writers. I’ll reiterate a point I made on FB a while back about your book *In the Blood*: “I really did like In the Blood, Rick~the self-sacrifice theme will stick with me forever (as will the horror building up to that point and surrounding it). Not sure if that was good or bad. It just “was”, but I liked it…” & “I mean she had all the power and control anyone could ever want and chose to give it up in a heartbeat for someone she loved…I find… Read more »
rickrreed

I don’t think I could stop if I tried, Elyane. Thanks for reading!

Elyane

Hello Rick!
” I’m a selfish bastard. I write what I want.”
Please don’t stop being a selfish bastard. After reading you 3 last published work I’d say it works for you. 😉

Tam

People change, interests change, readers change. To be honest I can’t read “pure” horror. I’m way too much of a wimp. I’ve never read a Stephen King nor seen a movie of his. Sigh. Colour me yellow. However I can handle a bit of horror in my romance.
*
So from the rest of the scaredy cats out there, we appreciate you making the scary stuff a little less scary by adding some love. 🙂 Love is good.

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